Nativity by John Donne
Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.
I’d like to think that we’ve made progress as a civilization over the last 2,000 years, but when I consider the way the world received Jesus of Nazareth so long ago and the way people carry themselves today, I cannot help but imagine that He would be received, treated and explained away in exactly the same manner were He to come again.
What has changed, really? Are we any more faithful, intelligent or sentient than the men and women who were on earth at that time? Are we any less suspicious, doubtful or fearful of the changes which would likely attend the unification of heaven and earth? The answer is clearly ‘no’.
We have not changed one bit in two millennia. Look in the history books and you will see the same patterns at work in the hearts and minds of men: war, rumors of war, deception, pettifoggery and the promise of a brighter future. Science, some may argue, has freed us from the ignorance of religion, but has it? Others might just as easily reason that the fantasy of scientific omniscience has pushed us even further from the state of humility which would allow for a restoration of man’s consciousness.
Our knowledge of the world around us has grown significantly, but even the most militant atheist scientists require an initial miracle from which all the matter and energy that they so proudly claim to understand proceed. Why is that? Our knowledge does not seem to have made us any more humane, just or reasonable; it only seems to have made us more polarized, isolated and unfulfilled.
The Lights of Truth and Love are no less insufferable than they were in the time of Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, Moses or Abraham. It is no secret that people living in darkness abhor the light; it pains them. It reveals their inadequacies and pierces the veil of the various rationalizations which have made them feel comfortable in the dankness and darkness of the cave.
Many of the supposedly righteous Jews present at the time that Jesus walked the earth rejected Him not for what He said, but out of reaction to His insufferable presence. Would the righteous Christians of our day be any different? How many would accept not just Him, but the authority He represents and expects of His friends, family and fellows? The last time I checked, to assume such a level of authority has long been and is still considered blasphemy.
The question for all who would give themselves to the Lights of Truth and Love is whether or not even the most deeply held assumptions, tenets, dogma and constants – scientific or religious – would be yielded were they to be proven fallacious. Very few people have, even though that is all it would take. The biggest challenge, I suppose, is that those with the most to lose are typically the least willing to yield. If you don’t believe me, examine the record.